There is only one permanent environmental and road research station in Sweden, situated on the E18 motorway between Västerås and Enköping. VTI is now taking over as the new research coordinator for the station.
“Here we can follow up on the various types of environmental effects that motorway construction on this scale entails”, says VTI researcher Göran Blomqvist, the new research coordinator for the measurement station.
The measurement station, Testsite E18, is managed by the Swedish Transport Administration, and is a cooperative effort also involving, VTI, the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI). The test site is equipped with various sensors, gauges, and data loggers that allow collection of environmental data that could improve our understanding of the processes involved in the environmental impact of roads. The knowledge generated could be useful when building new roads or in the development of road operation and maintenance activities.
Twenty thousand vehicles
The measurement station was set up because of the construction of the new E18 motorway. Having a station by a new road was advantageous, as data could be obtained before traffic was even allowed on the road, making it possible to track the evolution of various environmental factors. Twenty thousand vehicles pass the measurement station each day, a figure representative of a typical Swedish motorway. Gathering various types of measurement equipment together and measuring traffic, weather, and environmental parameters at a single location lets the research team perform otherwise impossible analyses.
“We are following up on both quantitative and qualitative hydrological parameters. For instance, we are tracking the rain and meltwater that run off the road surface, making it possible to measure the level of pollutants that are at risk of ending up in the groundwater. In one ongoing project, we are also measuring air quality parameters, improving our understanding of how the traffic, road conditions, and weather affect the spread of air pollutants”, says Blomqvist.
The ground and water in and beneath the roadbed are also being monitored, and sensors and data loggers are measuring and storing the obtained values via an online link. This provides longer data series that enable researchers to analyse the patterns in the various environmental, meteorological, and traffic parameters. Testsite E18 is the only measurement station in Sweden where it is possible to amass such detailed information.
It has been possible to make these measurements for several years, and now Göran Blomqvist wants to take the next step, developing the measurement station further and increasing the educational value of having such a resource. “I want this to be a station used by as many people as possible, an international platform where data can be downloaded by both researchers and students. School students will be encouraged to conduct their own environmental and climate projects using the data gathered at the test site”.
Göran Blomqvist, Researcher